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The PJ Tatler

Bridget Johnson


October 31, 2013 - 3:45 pm

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) submitted a resolution today demanding to know why President Obama has reportedly been spying on Pope Francis:

Expressing the sense of the United States Senate that President Obama should issue a statement regarding spying on His Holiness, Pope Francis.

Whereas public news reports this week indicate that the United States National Security Agency monitored millions of phone calls in Italy in late 2012 and early 2013;

Whereas these reports indicate that the National Security Agency monitored telephone calls made to and from a
residence in Rome where then Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio stayed during the conclave selecting Bergoglio, now known as His Holiness Pope Francis, to succeed Pope Benedict XVI;

Whereas this story has been widely reported in the American and international media;

Whereas the National Security Agency has reportedly denied the allegations;

Whereas these allegations are serious and President Obama should personally address these reports;

Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that President Obama should directly address the serious allegation whether his administration monitored the calls of Pope Francis or the conclave selecting the Pope.

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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All Comments   (6)
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The answer that is emerging, sadly enough, is "because they can." Tactical brilliance combined with strategic idiocy.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Ah! That's why they needed someone fluent in Latin!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment

I dunno, maybe because someone at the NSA has the brains to not have to ask how many divisions the Pope has.

World leaders aren't a schoolyard.
Just because Pope Francis happens to be the nicest kid in the neighborhood doesn't mean he still isn't a major world leader.

This is a prime example of why "libertarians" should never be allowed anywhere near anything even vaguely resembling political responsibility, never mind actual political power.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Um. If you're going to quote Stalin, you might at least try to have some point in doing it. Since you ask, to the best of my knowledge the Pope has zero divisions. He gets them all on loan from Switzerland, so he doesn't really own them. For that matter, the Pope hasn't even had his own *bodyguards* since the early 70s. And "major world leader" though the Pope may be, he is ruler of a city-state 110 acres in size, which is entirely surrounded by and essentially at the mercy of Italy. The Vatican is *literally* the smallest country IN THE WORLD. In terms of raw military strength he is a less material threat to the United States than the gulf of Mexico... and no, I do not mean the OCCUPANTS of the gulf, I mean the gulf itself. Just in accidents, drownings, etc, it has probably claimed more lives than the Vatican has claimed under its current arrangement. As for political power, the Vatican has the misfortune of being associated with a religion that does not advocate brutally murdering non-believers, while simultaneously frowning on oppressive dictatorships. This makes them relatively tepid in their outlook and seriously chills relations with some of the few remaining catholic countries (most of which are formally socialist or communist now anyway).

Now, yes, there is a point to spying on someone like Angela Merkel. Anyone who thinks she isn't doing the same to us, if she has the capacity to, is nuts. But Angela Merkel is an actually important major world player... German Chancellor, bigwig in the EU. Now, the pope, on the other hand, is basically a figurehead ruling a kingdom you could spit across and stuck looking for plausible unfinished religious business to occupy himself with that no one has thought to do in the last 2000 years of Catholicism. I know there is a subtle difference between these two things, but if you REALLY think about it, I'm sure you'll notice that these are not equivalent. And therefore, there's this thing called cost efficiency (which the United States should try, somewhere, sometime this century), wherein we abstain from committing resources to utterly unnecessary spycraft with virtually no chance of giving us any useful information while simultaneously making us look like paranoid bungholes. This may come as a shock, but just because it is distantly (very distantly) related to national security does not mean it is a sane use of time, energy or money. Shall we also go to great effort to install a phone tap in the office of the King of Liechtenstein? Lord knows when the great Liechtensteiner army corps will engulf Europe like a virus and start WWIII.

What this is is a prime example of you failing to think critically about who we actually NEED to spy on. Of course, these days that'll get you a good posting at the NSA. So, you know, compensations.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So . . . you felt that I hadn't made my point sufficiently and wanted to demonstrate just how oblivious Stalin was, and how short sighted thinking of power purely in terms of raw military might?
And then add on top of that a misperception regarding economic power in the same way.
And then create a strawman that the expense is identical to other tasks.
And then wander off on yet more abstractions.

I think I'll simply point out the relevance of the activity of Pope John Paul II in the Solidarity Movement in Poland, and how that triggered the collapse of the Warsaw Pact and then the Soviet Union, and just leave it there as an object lesson I the shortsightedness of both Communist dictators and "libertarian" ideologues.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Ooooooo, a STRONGLY worded statement! I am convinced! That Paul guy is the bestest.

/snark off
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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